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People Who Get Goosebumps When Listening to Music Experience More Intense Emotions

·341 words·2 mins
Psyched for the Weekend

Although we still have a long way to go in regards to mapping things directly to areas of the brain, I have to admit — I’m a sucker for studies that use neuroimaging to help us understand our complex emotional and cognitive inner lives a little bit better.

I particularly like the ones that look at niche facets of being human. For example, I recently ran across a study that looked into what was happening physiologically when people were listening to music.

I have always liked music. For much of my life, that’s how I actually supported myself — as a professional musician. But even before that, before I could play an instrument, I loved listening to music. Even now, I find that I am happier if there’s music playing, that I can be more productive, that I get less lonely (if I’m alone).

And if music is really excellent, I get what has always seemed like a visceral pleasure. I’ll feel a shiver go up my back that makes me shudder — but in a good way.

So I was particularly interested in today’s study about people’s response to music. Here’s a link to the full study.

There’s a lot in there to pore over. But here are some key findings of the study:

  • Music directly impacts the emotional and social processing centers in our brains. They saw it clearly.
  • People who experience goosebumps or chills while listening to music have an appreciable difference when it comes to how they process that music in their brains. In layman’s terms, people who get goosebumps when listening to music experience more intense emotions.
  • Folks differ widely in their tendency to have strong emotional responses to music. According to the researchers, these differences seem to be related to “behavioral and personality factors.”


This post is part of an ongoing Poly Land feature called Psyched for the Weekend, in which I geek out with brief takes about some of my favorite psychological studies and concepts. For the entire series, please see this link.


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